However, the reallocation from East side users has not resulted in any environmental improvements. The San Joaquin Restoration water releases have been totally wasted because none of the projects to get the River ready for salmon have been completed. With no other options, farmers have turned to the underground aquifers to sustain their crops. Now, we are in crisis with the underground being depleted at an unsustainable rate.
The proposed solution by the environmental community and its allies in the government is to demand regulation of underground pumping. They allege farmers are acting irresponsibly by depleting the underground, and are trying to use this ruse as a reason to further hamstring and control water usage by farmers.
THE SAN JOAQUIN RIVER SETTLEMENT
To understand this situation, we must first review the San Joaquin River Settlement. The concept of settlement was advanced by Senator Feinstein and Congressman Radanovich. There were two co-equal goals: 1. Attempt to revive a self-sustaining salmon fishery on the main stem of the San Joaquin River (Restoration Goal), and 2. Mitigate the water losses of the folks that have depended on this surface water for decades (Water Management Goal). The Settlement was signed on Sept. 13, 2006, and Senator Feinstein required all parties to sign a
‘blood oath’ promising to abide by its terms, conditions, and goals. The key to the Water Management Goal was the ability to recirculate the restoration water back to the southern Friant districts once it reached the Delta. However, NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) the primary environmental plaintiff in the Settlement and the negotiations aggressively continued to participate and inject itself into critical litigation and regulatory matters after the signing of the Settlement with a view of doing damage to Delta conveyance and thus to recirculation efforts.